o-tsukimi bento

30 09 2012

my dear twitter friend lisa recently educated me about the japanese holiday o-tsukimi… as a fanatic for all things autumnal, i was eager to try my hand at a bento celebrating this lovely tradition.  but being a bit out of practice with kyaraben, i turned to the best for guidance on how to interpret the themes of this celebration (the harvest moon, bunny, mochi, and fall foods such as squash/pumpkin) into a bento.  hippomum is a bento-maker whose work i have admired ever since i started making my own bento boxes, and looking back through her archives, i found several o-tsukimi-themed bentos.  specifically, these examples from 2009 and 2010 were just the inspiration i needed.  i followed her model of a cheerful rabbit with a mochi pyramid atop a ceremonial stand, and a partially-clouded-over moon against a night sky, switching out only the ingredients.

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vintage stamps bento

26 04 2011

a recent trend in wedding stationary is to use a mix of vintage postage stamps for a unique and stylized look. i think this idea is really cute, but it can be cost-prohibitive (some vintage stamps cost up to 10 times their face value!).

inspired by the trend as well as cute bentos by akinoichigo and lucky sundae, and evolving the scottie dog “stamps” bento i made a few weeks ago, i made two vintage postage stamp sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. each stamp sits atop a sandwich of pumpernickel, vegetarian ham, cheese and mustard. the provolone stamps are topped with fish sausage roses, as well as green pea and nori accents and hand cut 12-cent demarcations.

posted in “what’s for lunch wednesday” — what are you having?





happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





twin geese bento

24 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has two hanpen geese with egg sheet beaks and feet, nori eyes, and fish sausage cheeks.  they’re sitting on a bed of basmati rice sprinkled with furikake i received in a surprise package from a bento pal — it’s got a combination of sesame seeds, dehydrated green bell pepper, and yuzu, which gives it a very unique, tangy flavor.  i love it!

i punched some little clovers out of fish sausage, and the back portion of this box has steamed sweet potato and broccolini, a takuwan rosette with asparagus leaves, tiny red vine tomatoes, and a cheese flower.  i think i felt like using my goose-shaped cutter because the resulting geese look like they would lay nice fat easter eggs.  did everyone have a nice easter weekend?

don’t forget that the auction for the lovely hand-crafted crane earrings ends in a few hours — all proceeds are to benefit japan relief, so get your bid in while you can!





speedy bunny bento

20 04 2011

this speed-packed bento is my nod to easter… the “speedy” in the title refers both to the bunny and to the bento-making time!

it’s a simple meal in my trusty tiffin:  some bulldog-glazed veggie meatballs, japanese pickles, rice with scallions and peas, a few carrot flowers, and a sweet potato bunny.

no bento for me on friday, so this is my last reminder that the highly-sought-after bento play food set auction ends in just over a day… and then we’ll be in easter weekend.  wishing all my bento pals a wonderful holiday weekend with their families!





falling ginkgo bento

6 10 2010

i recently ordered a ginkgo leaf cutter, after more than a year of admiring its use by fellow bento-makers such as debra of hapa bento and sheri of happy little bento. the funny thing is, as soon as i got it, i realized that you can accomplish the same shape with a plain old round-fluted cutter and an x-acto knife (just cut a fluted round, and then trim away the profile of the stem — that’s how i made the smaller ginkgo leaves here).

anyway, i didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in the last week of hapa bento’s “fall theme” BOMB challenge, and i was inspired by sheri’s recent use of orange against black rice.  so i decided to use up my leftover forbidden rice with some simple falling leaves.

there are a number of gingko trees in my neighborhood, and these leaves remind me of my morning walks with ruby, who loves to chase, lick, or chew any leaf in her path!

my gingko leaves are cut from purple potato, sweet potato, and golden beet — all veggies that really feel autumnal to me — and the back portion of this bento has two vegetarian chicken nuggets, a zebra tomato and a red pear tomato, two pea pods, two carrot tamagoyaki slices, and a steamed broccoli floret.

this is the two-tier kyo bento from bento & co; in the other portion i have some leftover chili, which i’ll mix with rice when it’s time to eat lunch tomorrow.

happy fall!





forbidden violets bento

29 09 2010

this is my entry for mademoiselle.m’s “passion bento” contest.  there are still 2 days to enter; why not join the international fun and put together a bento reflecting the things (or people, places, etc.) about which you are passionate?

this bento reflects my passions of art (including the art of bento-making itself!) and nature.

the above composition is made from a black-and-brown rice blend, purple potato (with white cheese, yellow cheese, and sesame seeds), basil leaves (from the plant on my windowsill), shredded takuwan, baby pear tomatoes, a kiwi berry, two raspberries, steamed broccolini (i used only the stems, which are tender and less woody than regular broccoli, and very tasty), vegetarian meatballs, and sweet potato.  the forbidden rice is layered on top of my favorite spicy stewed korean tofu.

i originally saw the three-petaled violet idea at akinoichigo’s blog, and decided to put my own spin on it.  this is another thing i’m passionate about — i feel so grateful to be part of this supportive community where everyone shares ideas and inspiration, and where this type of adaptation is encouraged!